Best window air conditioners 2019: have a chilled out summer

Noel Case ·
Writer/Reviewer
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

An air conditioner for windows is an ideal way to make a room extra cool this summer, especially if you are renting a small apartment with no central air conditioning. The best window air conditioners are usually the ones designed for the purpose you have in mind, and sometimes it is good to question the type of air conditioning you need. 

Window air conditioners are designed to fit any double-hung window, and are portable enough to be cleared away into storage for the winter, though the installation for the hefty machines are two man-job. If you are looking for something smaller, for an RV, we recommend you try a portable air conditioner. They’re also only designed to provide air conditioning to one room, so not ideal for providing a cool house like larger units. 

The best window air conditioner we found was the LG LW8017ERSM. While this LG model is a little pricier than other window AC units we reviewed, it has all the convenience features we looked for, is extremely energy efficient and is the most powerful of all the products we evaluated.    

Best Overall
LG LW8017ERSM
The LG LW8015ER is energy efficient and powerful, and it can cool a good-sized room of up to about 340 square feet quickly. It is great for humid climates since it removes more moisture from the air than other units we evaluated.
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Best Value for Small Rooms
Keystone KSTAW05B
The Keystone KSTAW05B is an affordable window air conditioner with a nice feature package. It lacks the power of bigger, more expensive units, but is a great choice for a small room of up to 150 square feet.
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Most Energy Efficient
GE AEM05LX
The GE AEM05LX doesn’t have a lot of extras, but it is solidly built and one of the most energy efficient AC units in our lineup. It has the highest energy efficiency rating and the lowest estimated yearly energy costs of any AC in our lineup.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Effficiency
Pricing
Convenience
Design & Warranty
Energy Efficiency Rating
Maximum Air Flow
Energy Star Qualified
Moisture Removal
AHAM Certified
UL Listed
Estimated Annual Energy Cost
Price
Energy Saver Mode
Dehumdify Only
Sleep Mode
Auto Restart
Appliance Warranty
Noise Level
BTU
4-Way Directional Louvers
Compressor Warranty
Room Size
Width
Height
Depth
Weight
Maximum Window Kit Width
Minimum Window Height
$229.95 Wal-Mart
5 3.8 5 5
12.1 EER
220 CFM
2.2 pints/hour
$60.00
$249.00
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
60
8000
1 Year
340 square feet
19.56 Inches
12.37 Inches
19.37 Inches
58 Pounds
36 Inches
13 Inches
$189.99 Target
4.7 4.5 4.5 5
12.1 EER
147 CFM
1.3 pints/hour
$48.00
$189.00
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
56
6000
5 Years
250 square feet
18.5 Inches
12.75 Inches
15.71 Inches
45 Pounds
36 Inches
14 Inches
$147 Amazon
3.8 5 5 4.2
11.2 EER
129 CFM
1.3 pints/hour
$38.53
$159.00
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
55
5000
5 Years
150 square feet
16 Inches
12 Inches
15.75 Inches
40 Pounds
36 Inches
13 Inches
$278 Goedekers
4.8 3.9 4.2 4.9
11.2 EER
200 CFM
1.8 pints/hour
$46.29
$327.49
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
70
6000
5 Years
250 square feet
18.6 Inches
14 Inches
20.8 Inches
60 Pounds
36 Inches
14.12 Inches
$29.95 Wal-Mart
4.8 4.5 3.2 4.9
11.2 EER
1.5 CFM
1.6 pints/hour
$41.00
$148.57
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
49
5000
1 Year
150 square feet
16.4 Inches
12.6 Inches
14 Inches
40.79 Pounds
36 Inches
13.38 Inches
$229.99 Electronicexpress
4.4 4.5 3.2 4.9
12.1 EER
143.3 CFM
0 pints/hour
$42.34
$229.99
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
51.9
6000
1 Year
250 square feet
18.5 Inches
13.5 Inches
13.5 Inches
52.69 Pounds
36 Inches
14 Inches
$176.98 Amazon
3.9 5 3.2 4.7
11.2 EER
200 CFM
1.8 pints/hour
$46.29
$196.78
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
53
6000
1 Year
250 square feet
18.75 Inches
13.4 Inches
18.75 Inches
45 Pounds
36 Inches
14 Inches
$209 Amazon Marketplace
4.7 4.9 1.9 3.7
12.4 EER
145 CFM
1.4 pints/hour
$38.00
$177.65
Yes
No
No
No
Not Stated
5200
1 Year
260 square feet
18.59 Inches
12.75 Inches
15.71 Inches
44 Pounds
38 Inches
13.5 Inches
Best Overall
The LG LW8017ERSM is a powerful, energy-efficient air conditioner that will cool an area of 340 square feet. This AC unit is more expensive to run than the other window ACs in our review, but you are paying for a quality machine that does so much more than the standard models. The estimated annual energy cost of $60 are more than any other unit we looked at, but that is a reflection of how much extra space it cools, not a lack of efficiency. The LG window air conditioner is jam-packed full of convenience features that make using this machine a breeze. It was designed with the everyday needs in mind.The functional focused design, extra features and excellent all around performance does come at a cost. The LG LW8017ERSM is more expensive than other AC units we reviewed. It is also on the heavy size, weighing in at 54 pounds meaning installation took a little more brawn. The only feature this LG AC unit is missing, is an automatic shut-off, but it does have a timer that allows you to control operation time - so, this isn’t a deal breaker. It also has auto restart, and it will resume operating with its former settings if there is a power outage. This LG is also a good choice for humid climates because it can efficiently pull 2.2 pints of moisture per hour out of the air, significantly more than any other model we examined. Switching to dehumidify mode lets you draw out the moisture without changing the temperature of the air. The LG LW8017ERSM is the most powerful AC in our lineup, with a maximum airflow of 220 cubic feet per minute, it is energy efficient. It keeps tabs on the temperature of your room and shuts off in three-minute intervals, so your room doesn’t become too cold.. It also uses the internal fan to circulate the cool air from the compressor. This lessens the burden placed on this important part of the unit preventing from being overworked. . This clever design is intended to stop the compressor from burning out, and increases the life-span of the machine.
Pros
  • Energy efficiency ratio of 12
  • Removes 2.2 pints of moisture per hour
  • Cools up to 340 square feet
Cons
  • Costs more to run than other models
  • Weighs 54 pounds
  • More expensive than other models
$304.99Amazon
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Best Value for Small Rooms
The Keystone KSTAW05B has 5,000 BTU, which makes it a good fit for small spaces. The most that this room will cool is 150 square feet, and it isn’t powerful to lower the temperature in big rooms like a master bedroom or kitchen. This is the most compact and lightest window AC unit we reviewed – it only weighs 40 pounds, which makes it easy to install in most windows. The unit’s small size and low power consumption means it costs less to run than most of the other window-mounted ACs we reviewed. It is Energy Star certified and has an EER rating of 11.2, which makes it an energy efficient option. The Keystone has a selection of handy features, making it easy to use. We were surprised to see that this Keystone AC is one of only a few models that has every convenience feature we looked for, including a remote control, programmable timer and an auto mode. It even has less-common features like a dehumidifier mode and a sleep mode. The five-year compressor warranty is much better than the one-year coverage similarly priced models carry. This unit is more affordable and smaller than other window air conditioners we evaluated and due to this it has some limitations. In particular, it has a low airflow, 129 CFM, which is another reason the unit is only suitable for small rooms.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Five-year compressor warranty
  • Lightest, most compact model we reviewed
Cons
  • Strictly for small rooms
  • Low maximum airflow
  • Limited directional air flow
US$147Amazon
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Most Energy Efficient
The GE AEM05LX is an excellent window AC unit for small or medium-sized rooms. This AC unit cools a bigger space of 260 square feet, which is more than most of the window air conditioners we reviewed. This is surprising when you consider it is less powerful than some of the other window air conditioners we reviewed. This is due to the AC’s excellent efficiency rating. This GE window air conditioner had the highest energy efficiency rating of any AC unit in our lineup at 12.4. This means it makes efficient use of its BTU output and has the lowest estimated cost per year. Its airflow rating of 145 CFM is average when compared to other window air conditioners in our lineup, but it can effectively cool a small or midsize room. While this is a well-designed, high functioning window AC, it does lack convenience features. It has an energy saving mode, but no dehumidify-only or sleep mode, and it won’t restart automatically to its previous settings if there is a power outage. It also has an industry-standard warranty of one year for parts, labor and the compressor. This is a lightweight, compact air conditioner that is easy to install if you follow the instructions in the manual.
Pros
  • Excellent energy efficiency
  • Lightweight and easy to install
  • Low annual energy costs
Cons
  • Average airflow
  • Average warranty
  • No auto restart function
US$177.65Amazon
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Best for Large Living Areas
The Friedrich Chill CP06G10B is a good choice for large rooms because it can cool 250 square feet efficiently, which is larger than a standard kitchen. And because the louver is multi-directional, you can direct cool air to multiple spots in your room at once. This window AC has a timer to allow you to control when the Friedrich turns off and on throughout the day. It also has an energy-saver mode that turns the fan off every three minutes and check if the room has reached a temperature where it the AC unit can switch off completely. If the power goes out, the Friedrich window air conditioner has an auto-restart mode that turns the AC back to your preferred settings once the power is back on. The Friedrich Chill CP06G10B is Energy Star certified meaning it is designed to be energy efficient and comes with a five-year warranty on the compressor - the part that cools the air and is the most likely part to breakdown. The biggest drawback is this window AC is pretty heavy, over 60 pounds, so you’ll likely need some help getting it set in your window.
Pros
  • Cools 250 square feet
Cons
  • Weighs a lot
$319.00Amazon
Read the full review
Quietest Window AC
The Haier HWF05XCR-L only makes 49 decibels of noise on its highest setting. That’s equivalent to two people having a normal conversation, or a bird chirping outside. This window air conditioner is designed to cool smaller rooms of about 150 square feet, and its louver can only be pointed in one direction instead of the four direction like a bigger units. This window AC has a dehumidifier setting that pulls moisture from the air to help keep it drier and cooler in your home. This is especially helpful in more humid areas. It also has a sleep mode and energy-saver mode, but it doesn’t have an auto-restart in case the power goes out. The Haier HWF05XCR-L weighs just over 40 pounds, which is a lot considering how compact this air conditioner is compared to others we reviewed. Still, this is about normal for a window AC and shouldn’t be too much trouble to set up.
Pros
  • Has a dehumidify mode
Cons
  • Doesn’t have auto-restart
$169.39Amazon
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What to look for when buying a window AC unit

There are a large range of window-mounted air conditioners on the market, many being geared towards a specific niche or need, like super quiet air conditioners for bedrooms, small ones for tiny rooms and windows, as well as, all powerful machines designed to create a large cooling area. With so many functions, and niches it can be hard to know what you window air conditioner is best for each function. 

This buying guide for window air conditions will talk you through the common features, installing the machine, as well as, providing reviews for the best window air conditioners we’ve got our hands on, so you won’t bake this summer. 

Why trust us

We've tested programmable thermostats and fans in-house for the last three years. This hands-on experience has given us insight into what to expect from heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. We apply exacting standards to each product we test, primarily focusing on performance and user-friendliness. We design our tests to simulate typical consumer experiences.

When, as in the case of window air conditioners, we cannot test the physical product ourselves, so we can score all the products against our inhouse scoring system, to ensure greater consistency across all out reviews. 

How we tested

During our evaluation, we relied on manufacturer specifications as we considered each air conditioning unit’s performance, cooling area and energy efficiency. We measured each air conditioner's ability to circulate air through a room, operate in different modes and to provide a chilled area to relax in more heavily than the other features of a window air conditioner.

We also considered each unit's energy efficiency rating and calculated the estimated annual cost to operate it. We used an industry-standard formula to estimate the annual energy cost based on someone using the unit eight hours a day for three months out of the year. Your actual cost depends on how often you use the air conditioner and the cost of electricity in your area – the national average is 12 cents per kilowatt hour – so your actual energy cost may vary from our estimated cost.

Ease of use is also important, so we looked for features that contribute to it such as modes of operation. For example, nearly every unit we reviewed includes a remote control and a programmable timer, which lets you control the air conditioner from across the room and set it to turn on or off at specific times.

Even portable air conditioning units are hefty to move, meaning that can be extremely heavy.  In-window air conditioners shouldn't be too heavy to lift into the windowsill or more than the window can bear. Having the right sized unit for the windows size should make it super easy to install. Also, consider how much noise the AC makes as it runs – on average, window air conditioners make about 54 decibels of noise, which is about as loud as a conversation between two people. Look for a model with a sound output around this average, if not lower, if you plan on using it while you sleep. There are some units designed to operate at lower noise levels. 

How much does a budget window air conditioner cost?

For a budget-friendly and energy efficient window AC unit, you can expect to pay between $100 and $300. These units typically don’t have a lot of features and most won’t feature the ability to use multi-directional air streams. Always look for model that has at least a one-year warranty that covers the compressor.

Room size & cooling performance

Window AC units come in many sizes and a variety of power ratings. Air conditioners use British Thermal Units (BTU) to indicate their cooling power, but how does that translate to room size? 

A good starting place is a 100-square-foot room: To properly cool a room this size, you need an AC unit rated at 5,000 Btu. For every additional 100 square feet, add 1,000 Btu. So, a 200-square-foot room requires an AC unit rated at 6,000 BTU and so on.

However, there are other factors to keep in mind. For example, you want an AC with a higher BTU rating than the above formula suggests if the room has a high ceiling or gets a lot of sunlight as well as if more than one person regularly occupies the room. A BTU calculator is a nice way to ensure you get an air conditioning unit that is suitable for the space. 

Efficiency ratings & certification

Every air conditioner has an energy efficiency ratio (EER), and the higher the EER, the more efficient the air conditioner is. The average EER of the window air conditioners we compared is 11.7, though the most efficient units have EER ratings over 12. Typically, appliances that are Energy Star certified are 20 to 30 percent more efficient than minimum requirements.

UL listed products have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories, which is a company that consults on a products safety. AHAM-certified units have passed performance evaluations by Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

Tips on installing a window AC Unit

Installing a window AC unit is a job for two people, due to the weight of the unit. Setting up a window AC unit should take a matter of minutes and shouldn't be a headache or a serious workout, so look for one that is lightweight and easy to install. The average weight of window air conditioners in our lineup is about 48 pounds, which can make them difficult to install without help.

An air conditioner does not need to be the same size as a window. Window AC units include a window kit that seals open spaces the unit itself does not cover. The kits tend to be the weak point in these systems, as improper installation allows cool air to escape the room and hot air to enter the house. Make sure you buy a unit with a kit that fits your window with a proper seal.

Most air conditioners for windows are designed for double-hung windows, which means that you might have to get creative and so some DIY to get the AC unit to fit if you casement windows or sliding windows. Before buying for these windows, check out DIY guides and videos on installing AC units in sliding windows and installing window units for casement windows to ensure you are prepared, and this a home improvement you can undertake. 

What functions do I need in a window air conditioner? 

The functions you need in a window AC unit all depends on the purpose you are using it for. Here are the most common functions on an AC unit, and what they are good for. 

Thermostat 

This is basically the ability to control the output temperature of the air conditioner. 

The budget window AC units will have a regular mechanical thermostat. This is usually in the form of dial that you can rotate, and set the temperature of the room. This dial usually gives presents the temperature as a single digit ranging from 1 to 7 where one is very cool, whilst the other isn’t. This can mean temperature control can be very hit or miss in these models. 

The high end range of air conditioners for windows comes equipped with a digital thermostat. Although more expensive, these thermostats are more accurate and allow greater control. Instead of having a number, you can actually set the specific degrees you want the room to be. 

So, if you want to maintain a room at a specific temperature, a digital model would be better. 

Fan Speed Adjustment 

An AC unit’s fan speed is how you control the rate of cooling in a room. 

Budget models typically come with two speeds - low and high. More expensive models come with a more options, including an auto-speed function. 

If you are using an air conditioner for a short time, fan speed isn’t so iportant. The high function of an expensive model will allow you to cool the room down quicker, but most people switch over to low to maintain the desired temperature. So, only look for a model with a high fan speed if you need to cool down a room quickly. 

The auto-speed function is a great feature to have. This allows the AC unit to monitor and adjust fan speed depending on the room’s temperature. This means you can set it, and just leave it to adjust and monitor itself. This is an ideal function to have in a bedroom or study, so you can sleep or work without working about the AC. It is also great in rooms where there is a natural heat source, like a kitchen. 

Automatic Timer 

Automatic timers allow you to program when an AC unit turns itself off. This is a great function for when you are sleeping, or to save yourself money for when the kids, or the other half-forget to switch the machine off when they head out. 

Most budget models will only offer you set intervals for when the machine should turn itself off. Higher models are more advanced timers, which allow you to pre-program the AC unit in advance. This means you can even set the timer to turn on when you are not home. 

Air Direction 

Window air conditioners allow you to control the direction of cool air through a set of blades that can be tilted and adjusted. 

Budget models usually have limited amount of directions, and blades for you to adjust, while more expensive models will offer you multiple options. The directions from two (up or down) to eight. 

Air Filter

As a window air conditioner sucks the hot air from the room, it also sucks in dust particles. These collect in the filter. A standard filter will have to be replaced every so often to prevent damage to a machine. A washable filter can be used again, once it has been washed. 

Quiet Machines

Some window AC units are designed to be quiet. These models are usually less powerful, and are not great for large spaces, but they are fantastic for areas that need quiet, like the bedroom. The noise level is something you should check for bedrooms. 

Dehumidifier Mode

These are good for those humid days, or if you live by the sea. On those days this mode will remove the moisture from the air, giving you a more comfortable day. The fan usually runs at slower speed, and the compressor is on for smaller durations so the extra humid is collected efficiently. 

Sleep Mode

In sleep mode an air condition will increase the degrees in the room. It will usually increase by half a degree every hour for a period of four hours. The window air conditioner will either maintain the room at a specific temperature or turn off after this period. 

Read more:

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